WTF is “Joyful Pessimism” and Why Should You Care?

Joyful Pessimism: A Memoir of Sex, Mental Illness, and Philosophy is coming out in late 2023 from El León Literary Arts. I’m pre-releasing it here as a serialized book. Subscribe to this substack to get each chapter as fast as I can write them.

The memoir has plenty of real-life sex and philosophical pessimism in it, but I’ve decided to spice it up with even more sex and philosophical pessimism—which hasn’t even occurred yet—via a dystopian erotic novella. The novella is entitled Ishtar’s Angel, and takes place in 2033 after an economic collapse due to AI takeover. It is presented as a “memoir” by one Daemon Derriere.

The chapters of this book alternate between my memoir (true) and the novella narrated by Daemon (hopefully never true), and are clearly labeled.

The interweaving narratives deal with topics including: the AI jobpocalypse, BDSM, psychedelics, witch worship, bipolar, anti-porn feminism vs. sex work decriminalization, ancient and future temple prostitution, goddess worship, philosophical pessimism, antinatalism, biomisia, assisted suicide, economic collapse, bitcoin, the breakdown of the nation-state and the rise of neo-feudalism: and how to survive it all with gallows humor.

As a paid subscriber, you support the development of my book, AND you get:

  • New chapters as soon as I write them

  • Access to all past chapters in the archive

  • My audiobook narrations of the chapters as I create them

  • Subscriber-only articles and extras

  • Ask me anything in the comments section!

  • For every 3 months you subscribe, you get 1 inscribed paperback copy of the book mailed anywhere in the US when it comes out (anticipated release by the end of 2023).

  • Subscribe at the Founding Member rate and get a 1-hour video call with me on any topic you choose (writing, publishing, shooting the shit, the meaning of life :)

Subscribe to Joyful Pessimism: Sex, Mental Illness, and Philosophy

"Joyful Pessimism: A Memoir of Sex, Mental Illness, and Philosophy" is forthcoming from El León Literary Arts, end of 2023. Join me as I write and share each chapter in real-time, including the interwoven dystopian erotic novella, "Ishtar's Angel"


Michael Ellsberg

I am the author of two books published by Penguin and one by HarperCollins. My writing has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Time, Forbes, and the Daily Beast.

Daemon Derriere

Sensual Ceremonialist at Ishtar's Angel